Embracing the tiny, Day 16: Ur kettle

the perfect tea kettle

To earn its keep on my cooktop, a tea kettle must do three things:

  1. Be as easy to de-scale as it is to fill. This rules out those ridiculous kettles with only a spout.
  2. Be easy to pour. All of those “helpful” kettles whose handles wobble? OUT. Double-ditto for those ones that leverage gravity so that tilting to pour releases the cap on the spout.
  3. Alert me to the doneness of water. What the hell’s up with those whistle-free tea kettles? I mean, the non-electric ones? At least with those, you can’t burn the house down. A little “ding” is fine under those circumstances.

Were you to view my own tea kettle—13 years mine, like the apartment—you would see it is missing the half-functional, half-decorative knob atop the cover. This is because when it broke, a mere year after I bought it, and I wrote off for a new one, the company informed me there was no way to obtain a replacement. Planned obsolescence, just like its higher-end cousins. Shameful.

I drink a lot of tea—just ask my dentist—so I have searched high and low for a kettle that meets these criteria, at any (reasonable) price. No luck, so same old kettle. So I’ve just had to use a pliers around de-scaling time, and adopt a wabi-sabi attitude about the rest of it.

Still, when such a small thing to fix is the first thing a company jettisons? Shameful.


This is Day 16 of a 21-day series. For more scoop on the who/what/why, go here.


  1. The first (and ’til now, only) time I heard the term ‘built-in obsolescence’, i was a fresh-faced, high school sophomore; I never figured out why our (somewhat cynical) biology teacher felt the need to shatter our innocence with the knowledge of this widespread, evil corporate strategy, but the phrase, and it’s dastardly meaning, has stuck with me all of these years, popping into my head with every non-functioning coffee maker, toaster and car battery that I’ve encountered throughout the last 4 decades. Thanks, Colleen; my favorite writer and my favorite verbiage, all in the same morning…..

      1. Logical mistake. I was unclear.

        But I do have to give that sucka a good vinegar rinse every now and then, anyway. Scaly, scaly, scaly. Like a limey lizard.

  2. Yes! Yes! and Yes! to your ‘Must Do” items –
    My current ‘hot water maker’ is 30+ years old, started life as a stove top percolator, no longer has either a lid or guts, and is Chinese red.
    Since I seldom drink tea, I keep it for my friends, and for the color!
    The fact that it’s small, so fits between the back burners, is a bonus. :)

  3. Thanks, all, for your kind notes here and elsewhere over the past several days. Especially since this site has been loading sooooo slooooowly. Ugh.

    I will look into it soon, but I didn’t want to let the opportunity slip by to voice my gratitude for your patience. And eff Dreamhost!

  4. For those of us who live for tea, electric kettles are the bomb. And if you use a Britta (or some such) to filter the water, voila, no scale. Ever. Waaaay easier.

    I appreciate wabi-sabi, but not when it comes to electronics. Fast and effective, please.

    1. Okay, WHAT am I doing wrong? B/c I have a Brita and I still get scale. Still! Not nearly as much as I used to when I just bought water at the grocery store (I know, I know), but yeah, still get it.

      I have been lusting after those Brevilles for some time now. All the tea nerds (and even the super-coffee nerds who are picky about temperature!) swear by them. I’ve used them at a couple of places I’ve stayed and love that quiet bubbling and the “ting!” sound.

      Some day. After I get the buzzy speakers replaced, maybe. (Can you tell I have a hard time buying myself stuff?)

  5. I love that you have teapots and scarves and other stuff that you have kept all this time.I know people who change cars every year(or sooner).The sad thing is that it is never theirs.There is value and wisdom in not letting go of stuff too easily.

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